How do I conduct police checks on existing employees?


Is one of your existing employees moving into another position that exposes them to a different level of risk from their current role? Do your homework to find out if an employment background check is required before they step into the new role. If a police check forms part of the selection criteria for the new position, make sure that you take the necessary steps to arrange for this before they switch roles.
In some cases, an employee may already possess an employment background check, however this may not be fit for purpose for the new role. When considering the existing police check, you should not only be paying careful attention to the issue date, but also take into account if it covers the specific risk associated with the new position. For instance, a police check that gives clearance for “access to sensitive information” will not be suitable for a position in which you are working with children. In such circumstances, the original police check would be void for the purposes of the new role and an updated one would be required which clearly specifies the new position.
Similarly, if the employee looking to move into the new role, did not require an employment background check for their existing position but does now for the next one, you should explain the need for a police check. Particularly, as the new responsibility poses a certain level of risk, it is mandatory for them to agree to and undergo a police check before being placed into the new role.

Should I conduct police checks on existing employees who haven’t changed roles?

Perhaps your organisation doesn’t have a criminal history-screening program in place but you wish to set one up, or more commonly, find yourself needing to establish a program as part of a mandatory requirement. With the nature of police checks being a sensitive matter, how you handle incorporating a criminal history check program into your organisation, is of the utmost importance.

It may be that you receive a mixed reception from your current staff. Whilst some staff would have no reservations in undergoing an employment background check, others may feel threatened and feel that this is a breach of trust between the company and them, particularly if they have been long-serving employees. This is therefore a delicate matter that must be handled with care.

Before you proceed to establishing a criminal history-screening program for your organisation, you must consider if the need to conduct a police check is justifiable, either due to a risk assessment for particular roles, or a change in legislation for a specific industry. Failure to conduct a clear risk assessment before incorporating an employment background check on current employees could see you facing potential legal risks yourself.

Assess whether a police check is required for the new role

In order to ensure a seamless transition, begin by advising employees that your organisation will be conducting employment background checks either due to a mandated requirement, or as part of the organisation’s wider risk management initiatives.

Take this opportunity to explain that having a criminal history doesn’t automatically oust them from their current role and that this will be handled fairly on a case-by-case basis, by senior management, with all results being handled with the highest degree of confidentiality.

The below checklist provides an overview of the steps to take when communicating the criminal history screening process to your staff to ensure a positive and favourable outcome:

  • Explain how the type of information and records disclosed in the employment background check can differ based on the laws in specific states and territories
  • Reassure staff of the protection that exists for spent convictions
  • Reiterate the policy considerations for conducting police checks based on your risk management policies
  • Outline how an employee’s identified crime may not be relevant to and thus, impact their role within the organisation
  • Demonstrate the criminal history screening process with a particular focus on the case-by-case considerations based on employee circumstances
  • Ensure there is full transparency of the staff members who will be conducting the screening for the police check
  • Reinforce the confidentiality associated with the storage of criminal history records by referencing your organisation’s confidentiality/privacy policy
  • Provide full disclosure to staff of their employment rights under the Fair Work and Anti-Discrimination legislation and advise them that they can contest the results should they wish to
Best Practice Guide
Best Practice Guide

Want to set up a criminal history screening program for your organisation? Our Criminal History Screening Best Practice Guide is the ultimate resource to help get you on your way.